I recently finished reading Almost Christian: What the Faith of our Teenagers is Telling the American Church. I picked up this book on a whim while in our church library and then was drawn into the break down and reflection of the National Study of Youth and Religion. Kenda Creasy Dean is the author of this book and she expounds upon the finding of the NSYR. Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is rampant in our churches and is affecting how teenagers are growing, or rather, not growing in their faith. Almost Christian shows us that according to this national study, our teenagers are very positive about faith in general but very apathetic when it comes to growing their own personal faith. Dean makes the argument that this apathy is the result of the American church and the self absorbed spirituality that is rampant.
Almost Christian contains several interesting and several very scary excerpts from the NSYR's interviews with teens. These interviews are scary in the fact that the students interviewed can articulate their views on political and cultural issues but are very inarticulate when it comes to matters of their spiritual beliefs. Dean lists four main traits of devoted Christian teens and they are as follows: 1) they have a personal and powerful God-story that they can articulate; (2) they belong to a community of faith; (3) they have a sense of call to live for a larger purpose; and (4) they have hope for the future promised by their faith.
This book was a very good read and a reminder to make sure that as Jon and I work with our youth that we are helping them grow and become more articulate about what they believe and why. In the end, it is up to each student to transform their faith into a solid and growing life giving relationship with Jesus Christ. I found Appendix B to be most interesting as this is a summary of the findings from the Nations Study of Youth and Religion. Number Six was "The single most important influence on the religious and spiritual lives of adolescents is their parents." So if you are raising a teenager or plan on raising a teenager solid in their faith, take a look at your own relationship with God and challenge yourself to grow! I hope to see more parents diving into God's Word and deeper into their relationship with Christ and see how this changes the future teenagers!